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Airgo Networks provided a glimpse into the future of wireless networking with today’s announcement of the Tru MIMO Gen 3 chipset. This chipset supports data rates of up to 240 Mbps while still maintaining backwards compatibility and interoperability with 802.11b/g standards-based wireless networks.

In considering this news, it’s important not to confuse data rates with “real-world” throughput. According to Dr. Greg Raleigh, President and CEO of Airgo Networks, consumers can expect to achieve up to 120 Mbps of TCP throughput on non-compressible data. This is approximately five times the throughput normally achieved with 802.11g products.

This is really a landmark achievement because for the first time wireless networks can achieve performance that exceeds the performance of 100-Mbps wired Ethernet. “This is the tipping point for consumers,” said Raleigh. “They’ll no longer have to decide where it makes sense to install a wireless network. Instead they’ll have to decide where it makes sense to install a wired network.” This level of performance makes wireless home networking for such applications as IPTV and large file transfers much more practical than the performance compromises associated with the technology based on earlier wireless network specifications.

The Tru MIMO Gen3 chipsets build on the Tru MIMO technology pioneered by Airgo Networks. Tru MIMO achieves performance gains over conventional wireless networking products using a technique called spatial multiplexing. Tru MIMO sends separate, multiple data streams on the same channel simultaneously.

Gen3 chipsets achieve their performance improvements with more advanced signal encoding and processing techniques (i.e., more data/bits transmitted) as well as a new technique that Airgo has labeled ACE—Adaptive Channel Expansion. Adaptive Channel Expansion is a “neighbor friendly” technology that can send data on more than one standard channel simultaneously. It uses the standards-based “listen before transmit” protocols to ensure that its transmissions don’t interfere with standards-based wireless traffic on either channel. Thus, it can co-exist and interoperate with 802.11b/g clients while at the same time, utilize available “air time” to boost performance.

PC Magazine has previously reviewed products from Linksys, Belkin, and NetGear that are based on Airgo’s first and second generation chipsets; and we were impressed with the performance of all three products. Airgo Networks also earned a PC Magazine 2004 Technical Excellence award for Tru MIMO.

Airgo Networks is currently providing Gen3 samples to selected partners; products based on Tru MIMO Gen3 available to consumers should arrive sometime late in the fourth quarter of 2005. We can’t wait to see if Tru MIMO Gen3 lives up to its promise.